Make a Resume Gap Work for You, not Against You

Make a Resume Gap Work for You, not Against You

Whether by choice, chance, or necessity, there are times each of us may find ourselves not working. Whether it’s 6 weeks, months, years or more, when it’s time to job hunt again, many people don’t know how to manage the gap(s) on their resumes. In our work-centric culture, having a significant gap on your resume may feel like it could be a deal-breaker in the already vulnerable process of re-entry and job seeking. 

10 Ways to Keep Your Job Search Under the Radar

You have a job. Maybe a decent-paying job.

You like your team, but the company culture? Not so much.

Your boss is a good person. Or maybe a miserable, insecure, control freak-y person.

You felt challenged when you started. Now, you can practically phone it in.

You tell yourself, Time to start looking.

If you’re working and thinking about changing jobs, you’re certainly not alone. Even during times of job growth and increased opportunity, there’s restlessness out there in the workplace.

And why shouldn’t there be? We spend a huge portion of our lives at work. The more hours we burn, the harder we work, the more life throws inevitable curve balls at us (both in the office and beyond), the more we start to evaluate our time, compensation, professional goals, values, priorities, and whether we should consider a change.

Consider These 2018 Employee Engagement Statistics

  • Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs (Gallup)

  • 82% of employees are continuously looking for opportunities elsewhere (Jobvite)

  • 29% of professionals plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months (Accountemps)

  • 33% of professionals selected “I’m bored, need new challenge” as their motivation for moving on to another job (Korn Ferry)

  • 25% of employees are actively looking for new job opportunities and 55% are passively open to new opportunities (Ajilon)

  • 60% of employees report being stressed all or most of the time at work (Udemy)

  • 45% of professionals feel their company does not promote a healthy work/life balance (Execu│Search)

  • 54% of professionals’ career choices are motivated by seeking a healthy work/life balance (Execu│Search)

  • 80-90% of the U.S. workforce wants to work from home as least part of the time (globalworkplaceresearch.com)

Are you nodding your head while reading this?

If so, how do you start exploring possibilities while keeping it under the radar at your current job?

10 Tips for an Active, Low-Profile Job Search

  1. If you’re updating your LinkedIn page, make sure you have the broadcast feature turned off. Under the “Me” tab, select “Account,” then “Settings and Privacy,” then the “Privacy” tab. Tap Sharing Profile Edits, then toggle the setting from Yes to No. This will keep your network from getting announcements every single time you make a change to your profile.

  2. You will also see sections titled “How Others See Your LinkedIn Activity,” “Job Seeking Preferences,” and “Blocking and Hiding.” You have more control on LinkedIn than you may think. Just remember, you want to be seen and found, rather than invisible.

  3. Create and order a networking business card rather than giving your company’s business card to people while networking. This should have your name, job title/type of position you’re targeting, and a branding tagline that answers “Why You?” or the promise you offer, i.e. “Produce Memorable Corporate Events that Expand Audiences.” You will also want to include a phone number, email address, and LinkedIn address. Be sure to leave the reverse side of the card blank in the event that the person you give it to wants to jot down a few notes about where you met, who they want to introduce you to, or anything similar.

  4. Do not use your company email, phone, or photocopier for job search activities.

  5. Plan to network, have coffee, and interview before work, during lunch, or after work.

  6. Continue doing a good job where you currently work, so as to not raise any red flags.

  7. While interviewing, request the prospective employer to please not contact your current employer to verify job status.

  8. Be discriminating in who you share your job search with at work, even among people you trust. It’s irresistible fodder for gossip.

  9. Remember that using LinkedIn is how the world’s working population now represents itself online. You need to present yourself there as the consummate, valuable employee you are; everyone does, even when not looking for a job.

  10. Work toward expanding your professional network on an ongoing basis, rather than only when you’re in active job search mode. It’s all about building new relationships, refreshing old ones, and staying top-of-mind. That’s the real secret to finding the job you want!

Who Needs a Resume Writer?

We are so glad you asked that question. Here’s the answer, even though it’s another question: How do you want to be seen? Does it matter what you do, what you wear, what you say, or whether there’s a little piece of spinach between your teeth?

If you want to be seen and noticed for all the right reasons – i.e., your talents, skills, and abilities that will add immediate value to a team – then the content of your resume becomes important. So does its presentation, carefully crafted by someone with the ability and professional training to weave your experience into a tight, focused, strategic narrative that highlights your strengths. Think of your resume as an essential marketing tool.

And then there’s branding. What’s your special sauce? Why are you the Office Manager, CFO, Marketing Director, or Graphic Designer this company should hire, or at least meet in person and consider? What sets you apart from all the other Office Managers (CFOs, Marketing Directors, or Graphic Designers)? Can you say it powerfully in twelve words or less?

These are some of the benefits you gain from working with a skilled, strategic resume writer. You should expect him or her to talk with you, listen closely, understand your goals, and ask you many, many questions about your work history as he/she digs for metrics, both quantitative and qualitative. If it’s been a while since you wrote your resume, here’s two tips from current best practices in the industry.  

1.     Forget dense paragraphs. Better to stick with bullet points. Humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish (I am not making this up). The average length of time a Hiring Manager spends looking at a resume to assess interest in reading further is six seconds.

That doesn’t mean we should spend less time constructing it; at Life Working®, we scrutinize every word and phrase to be as relevant, strategic, and competitive as possible for the jobs our clients want. (Kind of like the philosophy behind “Plan as if you’re going to live forever; live as though you’re going to die tomorrow.”) We write as if every word matters and will be read, then tighten for clarity, comprehension, and brevity.

2.     If your bullet points are too general and sound like tasks listed on a job description, they’re not working hard enough for you. How can the Hiring Manager know the scope of your project, and whether you did it well or not?

It’s important to focus on IMPACT. Without details and results you won’t stand out as the powerful candidate you are. How did the company/client/audience benefit from the work you did? That’s what matters. You want the reader to start imagining how they’ll benefit from bringing some of your goodness their way.

And we haven’t even gotten to the subject of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which most companies now use as part of their HR/recruiting process to screen out unqualified applicants and narrow the pile of appropriate candidates. Largely dominated by proprietary systems, there are also open-source software alternatives. Either way, it’s never been more important to stay savvy and up-to-date on current hiring best practices and use well-chosen keywords in your written materials to stay in the “IN” pile.

So how good are you at selling your best self, and doing so in a way that feels honest, authentic and comfortable for you, while still being persuasive?

Can you tell your story in a way that’s seamless, purposeful, relevant and meaningful to the Hiring Manager at the company where you want to work?  

Do you know how to format your resume with appropriate fonts, keywords, sufficient white space, and without graphic elements that an Applicant Tracking System could kick out before a human ever sees it?

Depending on your answer, it might be time to contact Life Working®. It’s one sure way of investing in yourself and knowing you’re presenting yourself at your absolute best.

What are You Worth?

Today, April 10, 2018, is a day we all should contemplate, especially as women. That’s because today is Equal Pay Day, established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to expand public awareness on the wage gap between men and women.

Why April 10? NCPE says It’s a symbol of how far into the year we have to work in order to earn what men earned last year. Depending on what state you live in, women get paid 70 to 80 cents for ever dollar a man gets paid.

The wage gap is even greater for women of color. And let’s remember, it impacts families, not just women. As NCPE cleverly illustrates, if there wasn’t a wage gap, we wouldn’t need this coupon.

4.10.18 blog.png

Is it just us, or do you find it hard to believe this is still the case in 2018? Come on already, world!

Until this is the non-issue it should be, Life Working® supports Equal Pay Day wholeheartedly. As co-owners, we are Career Coaches, Job Search Strategists, and professional Resume Writers who also happen to be women. We work with female clients all the time who tell us they don’t know how to negotiate. And we passionately coach them during their job search to feel empowered so that when they do get an offer, so they don’t lose their heads and automatically blurt out, “Yes! I accept!”

Instead, we teach them to pause, take a breath, say thank you, and buy a couple of days to think, review, and talk to advisors…then start negotiating for all they can. You’ll never have as much bargaining power as you do at the moment an employer wants to hire you. It’s much harder---and slower--- to try to make up the difference later.

To learn more about Equal Pay Day and what you can do, go here and here. Call or tweet your Senators, State Representatives, and the White House (I just did). And if you or a woman you know is either job searching or contemplating it, consider telling her about Life Working®. We love doing our small part to help close the wage gap. Let's get this done.

6 Reasons Career Coaching is Better Than Going It Alone

6 Reasons Career Coaching is Better Than Going It Alone

If you’re looking to take the next step in your career but don’t know where to start, we have two words for you to consider: career coach. Much like a sports coach or fitness coach, a professional career coach can help you gain and maintain focus, direction and motivation.

How do you know if this is the right next step for you? Here are a few ways career coaching can make all the difference.   

Let's Get to Work: Practical Tips for 50+ Job Seekers

Let's Get to Work: Practical Tips for 50+ Job Seekers

THE “A” WORD

I love coaching people in their careers and job searches. Recently I spoke to a group of unemployed job seekers, mostly 50+, as I have done many times. The focus of the presentation involved outlining the actions needed to conduct a successful job search in 2015. I made no mention of age.

3 Positive Ways to Turn Your Job Search Inside Out

3 Positive Ways to Turn Your Job Search Inside Out

We often hear frustrated clients lament, “I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs, and not gotten one interview!” If you’re a job seeker nodding your head as you read this, it’s time for another tactic. Relying solely on job boards is like sending paper airplanes into the ethers where they quickly disappear.